What happened to the Bennett family after the events depicted in The Impossible? Here’s what you need to know about the real tsunami survivors.
What happened to the Bennett family after the events depicted in The Impossible? Now streaming on Netflix, J.A. Bayona’s 2012 film chronicles the real-life story of five people who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The Impossible marks the feature film debut of Tom Holland (who would later portray Spider-Man in the MCU) and mostly received positive reviews upon its initial release.
The Impossible stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as Maria and Henry Bennett, respectively. For a Christmas holiday, the couple travels from their home in Japan to Khao Lak, Thailand with their three children: Lucas (Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast). Shortly after arriving, the Bennetts enjoy some pool time but sense a weather change. Moments later, a tsunami destroys the complex and forces the family members to fight for their lives. The Impossible was written by Sergio G. Sánchez.
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For The Impossible, the names and nationalities of the real family were changed. The film is based on the experiences of María Belón, who traveled from her native Spain to Khao Lak, Thailand with husband Enrique and their three children (Lucas, Simón and Tomás). Due to the story twist, The Impossible was accused of “whitewashing” the narrative, though survivors have praised the film for its authenticity, most notably how it depicts the Thai people who assisted survivors. María Belón reportedly hand-picked Watts to portray her in The Impossible, and later made the interview rounds after the film released worldwide.
In the present, María Belón reportedly (via Distractify) works as a doctor and also travels around the world as a motivational speaker. Her husband Enrique volunteers for Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish organization founded in 2015 that helps Turkish refugees settle at the Greek island of Lesbos. Simón, the youngest Belón child, currently studies at University College Utrecht in the Netherlands and also works as a trained diver for Proactiva Open Arms. Tomás, the middle child, studied at Atlantic College in Wales before moving to America to pursue a degree in Science, Technology, and International Affairs at Georgetown University. As for Lucas, who is portrayed by Holland in The Impossible, he studied medicine at the University College in London and has reportedly been treating COVID-19 patients in 2020.
In October 2020, María Belón appeared in a motivational video for BCC Speakers (via YouTube), in which she describes her tsunami experience as a “gift” because it strengthened her spirit. She speaks to fellow survivors and explains that The Impossible is not her story but rather “the history of all of us.” María Belón also recalls how she would “lovingly” fight with the director Bayona during production, and explains that the underwater scenes in The Impossible were designed to make all viewers feel exactly what the victims were feeling during the tsunami.
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